Weston McKennie: The team helped me out a lot

In the game against Hannover, Weston McKennie picked up a knee injury. Almost five weeks on, he’s back in team training and excited to get going once again. He spoke to us about his return from injury, rehabilitation and receiving support from his teammates along the way.

McKennie

Weston, how’s it going?

I feel great. I’ve been able to train fully for the first time this week and I feel like a brand-new player. Maybe the injury has actually turned me into a better player.

How was your first training session back from injury?

Of course, it was great fun to be back out on the pitch with the guys. I also think the session itself went pretty well. The guys said they were happy to see me again. I felt good and trained full of confidence. All in all, I’m very content and excited to get back to playing.

Where does your confidence come from?  Are you not a little nervous when you’re coming back from an injury?

I think it’s all psychological. Sure, I could hold back a little more but I feel ready and I have players around me who can help me cut out those negative thoughts and keep going.

Describe to us how it felt when you picked up your injury. You tried to play on but realised it wasn’t possible.

Normally, I always try to get straight back up on my feet and carry on when I’m fouled as I don’t want to get substituted! However, in that moment, I thought I’d really seriously injured myself. Thankfully, it wasn’t as bad as I first feared. What really helped was the support I received from my teammates. The whole team asked after me and wanted to know how I was getting on. Leon surprised me when I had my MRI scan and came along with me. Naldo, Breel and Thilo kept asking me how I’m doing and that was great. It helped me concentrate on my rehabilitation.

What’s the reason behind your quick return? Is it really just your teammates’ support?

Absolutely! It’s important to have people around you who pick you up when you’re down. There’s no point being down in the dumps all the time and that isn’t an attitude I only have in rehab. It’s something I have with me in my day-to-day life. To be able to count on the support of the team, the coaching staff and fans is absolutely invaluable to me.

How was your time in rehab?

It was tough. I couldn’t do what I love doing most and had to work my way back instead. Running on a treadmill in front of a mirror isn’t as fun as being out on the pitch with the team. You’ve just got to get through it. I’d like to thank all the physios and medical staff at Schalke as they’ve been vital in keeping my head up so I can get fit as quick as possible.

How does it feel being able to go back to training?

It feels great! I came to Germany as I love football and not being able to play was hard. I was injured for four or five weeks but it felt like an eternity. The football pitch is my home and it feels great to be back.

Do you know when you’ll be back in the squad?

I can’t say when exactly. That’s up to the head coach to decide. Sure, it’d be great if it was possible this weekend. That’s what any player would want. If I have to wait until next week, that’s fine. I’ll just keep working hard in training and see where it goes from there.

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